Monday, August 31, 2009

Grapes everywhere- it must be harvest time. I think I'm beginning to dream about grapes, but have been sleeping so soundly that I'm not sure.

Harvest continues in full swing. We have harvested 11,000 pounds of grapes so far, or so Dave tells me. It has gone quickly, and our harvest crews have been great! It does get a little overwhelming though, since we have significantly underestimated every crop so far. It's a good problem to have, but a logistical challenge.

We continue to have fun and interesting people coming out to help, in a full variety of ages. And people are having a good enough experience that they keep signing up for more. So that's good news! We really try to make it fun and rewarding for our guests/volunteer workers, and give them a feel for what goes into a glass of wine. I think they mostly enjoy hanging out in the country and snacking on the grapes.
The seyval and vignoles grapes are in, as are the chardonel. Next is traminette, which will be a challenge, because they aren't trellised as they should be. We did our best, based on the information available at the time, but when the extension viticulturalist came out in July he had some suggestions for improvement. So maybe next year they will be a little easier to harvest.
Then we'll start on the reds!
We have had a neighbor girl selling her home-grown produce at the winery this summer, giving us the feel of a very tiny farmer's market. Her stuff is great- I wish it sold better. But people make a beeline for the wine, and don't notice much else. I guess I shouldn't complain, since at least I get to enjoy the produce delivery.
We now have Shannon working in the tasting room, which is a huge help. And she seems to know everyone from Newton northward- she has amazing connections. I have no idea where she finds the time to come work for us, but I'm grateful.
Dave says the fermentation smells really good right now...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Harvest has begun!

We started the 2009 grape harvest on Saturday. The seyval were ready to go, and so were we. About 20 people came out to help, ranging in age from 7 months to 80 years old. And they all seemed to be enjoying themselves!

Dave had underestimated the amount of fruit we would be harvesting, and was worried we had too many people. But it worked out perfectly, as the crop was bigger than we planned, but so was the crew. We finished up right on schedule. And the fruit looked great! It was by far the best quality crop we have ever had. The grapes tasted so sweet and good. People were eating them right off the vine- something I encourage. You can't get anything fresher than that!

Our helpers also seemed to really hit it off with each other, and I overheard some pretty interesting conversations. We had a real variety of ages and backgrounds, but everyone seemed to enjoy the chance to be outside, working on a common goal, something tangibly fun- wine! Quite a few people were from Wichita, but we also had several from other surrounding communities.

And Jeff is back! He was such a help last year, that when we got the chance to hire him again we jumped at it. He also got a promotion from vineyard boy to director of marketing. I think it's a solid move for him and for the winery.

I hope the weeks ahead are as much a success as this was. Pray for good weather and protection from critters. We do have nets and a propane cannon (very loud) to keep the birds scared off, which helps a lot, but isn't perfect. They still get some fruit. Probably the deer and possums get a little as well.

If you know of anyone who wants to help in the weeks to come (most every Saturday from now until mid-September) have them send us an email! ( And I'm having internet issues, so if you want to see the photos, check facebook.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

We are getting very excited about harvest! These grapes are chambourcin, just beginning to turn, and they still have a long way to go. They just glowed in the evening light tonight.

But the vignoles and seyval have ripened a lot in the past two weeks, and we are planning our first harvest of the season for Saturday. We put out an email looking for volunteers, and were fully booked in less than 24 hrs, which was very gratifying. It made us feel like a lot of other people were excited too! And there will still be many weekends left to harvest, so everyone who wants to participate should get a chance.

So we are doing a lot of preparation, making sure we have the supplies we need and the plans in place. What a great time of year!